by Lucas O’Connor
Breaking yesterday through Twitter and evolving since, Congressman Bob Filner has apparently made an official public announcement that he’ll be running for mayor of San Diego.
As campaign roll-outs go, it wasn’t the most elegant beginning, and the legitimate process story continues to bubble up. A full launch can still be done in the future without losing significant impact, but in the meantime, the story and its continued unfolding underscores that the horserace has begun no matter what, and the vacuum will be filled.
While some will continue to hash through the reliability of information and the ‘is he REALLY?’ sideshow, what is clear is that Filner is now considered a part of the mayoral race; which means there’s a Democrat in the race, which means that two sides are presumed in discussion of mayoral issues.
It’s a big deal in San Diego, because we haven’t had two full-strength sides engaged in a city-wide debate in a number of years. It didn’t happen during last year’s Prop D campaign. It didn’t happen in the 2008 mayoral race when Democrats failed to field a viable candidate. The 2004 mayoral race turned into the fluke three-way race between Republicans Dick Murphy and Ron Roberts and last-minute write-in Democrat Donna Frye. You would have to go back more than a decade for the last time we’ve had a legitimate campaign addressing the comprehensive future of the city in which both major parties were seriously engaged.
Filner’s entry into the discussion addresses that, because he has the experience and personal campaign infrastructure to overcome existing deficiencies that have hamstrung previous efforts at a full-scale, two-sided debate about the issues that face this city.
And that means that this isn’t just a referendum anymore on Republican candidates. Not on Councilmember Carl DeMaio’s extreme views, or whether Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher has the clout to stand up to downtown developers. Nor is it just musing over whether District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis can indulge enough of her moderate tendencies to pick up establishment Democrats. It’s a real debate.
Now we can have a stronger conversation about how pension reform doesn’t have to be debilitating to be effective. About how we don’t have to stop investing in the basic quality of life for our neighborhoods to put our fiscal house in order. That we can remain committed to smart development and addressing blight without handing over the keys of city hall to developers.
That while solutions won’t be easy, they needn’t be extreme. And it’s high time San Diego hears it.